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Tithi : Shravan Shukla Panchami (Fifth day of
the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Shravan).
History : King Janmejay who performed sarpyadnya (the sacrificial fire of snakes) was appeased by Sage Astik. When Janmejay told Him to ask for a boon, Sage Astik asked for the cessation of sarpyadnya. The day on which Janmejay stopped sarpyadnya was Shravan Shukla Panchami.
Greatness of snakes
1. Sheshnag supports the Earth on His hood. He lives in Hell and has a hundred hoods with a diamond on each. He evolved from the tama component of Lord Vishnu. At the end of every kalp (a day and night of Lord Brahma), Vishnu relaxes in the great ocean on the body of Sheshnag. In the Tretayug when Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Ram, Sheshnag incarnated as Lakshman, His brother. Lord Krushna incarnated in the transition period between the Dwaparyug and Kaliyug. At that time Sheshnag incarnated as Balram, His brother.
2. The day Lord Krushna killed the serpent Kaliya in the bed of Holy river Yamuna, was Shravan Shukla Panchami.
3. In the Srimadbhagvadgita, Lord Krushna while narrating His greatness states, "The supreme amongst serpents, is 'Anant', that is me."
'Nine types of serpents - Anant, Vasuki, Shesh, Padmanabh, Kambal, Shankhapal, Dhrutarashtra, Takshak and Kaliya are worshipped. As a result, fear of serpents is overcome and poisoning by venom is prevented.'
Worship : On this day, figures of Navnag (nine cobras) are drawn with turmeric or raktachandan (red sandalwood) on a wooden seat and are worshipped; they are offered naivedya of milk and parched rice. The Navnag comprise the nine major groups of pavitraks. Pavitraks are the subtlemost Divine particles.
Implied meaning : 'All living organisms in the world are attuned to the functions of the world. By worshipping cobras on the day of Nagpanchami, God is performing actions through them. This is the broad view to be understood.' - H.H. Parashram Madhav Pande Maharaj, Sanatan Ashram, Devad, Panvel.
Fordidden action : On this day we should not chop, cut, fry, even keep a frying pan on the fire etc. These norms should be followed. Also digging on this day is forbidden.
Importance of fasting : Five ages ago there was an inferior goddess named Satyeshwari. Satyeshwar was her brother. Satyeshwar died on the day before Nagpanchmi. In grief of her brother's death she did not eat any food. Hence females observe fast on that day for their brothers for brother's longevity, acquiring of various weapons and for him to come out from sorrows and dangers safely is also one of the reason for observing the fast. If the sister calls out to god for her brother on the previous day of Nagpanchmi, then the brother gets 75% benefit and is also protected.
Science behind worshiping Cobra : Satyeshwari saw her brother in the form of Cobra. At that instance she believed that the Cobra was her brother. At that time the Nagdevta (Cobra goddess) gave her a promise that any female who would worship him as her brother, he would protect her. Hence on that day every female celebrates Nagpanchmi by worshipping Cobra.
Reason for wearing new clothes and ornaments : Nagdev was pleased with the grief of Satyeshwari for her brother. To reduce her grief and to make her happy he then gave her new clothes to wear. He also decorated her with various ornaments. On that Satyeshwar was satisfied. Hence on that day females wear new clothes and ornaments.
Importance of applying mehandi : Satyeshwar stood in front of Satyeshwari in the form of Nagraj. Feeling that he would leave, Satyeshwari took a promise from Him i.e. from Nagraj. While giving the promise a mark of promise appeared on her hands. As a representation of that promise on the day before Nagpanchmi every female applies mehandi on her hands.
Importance of playing swing : Next day Satyeshwari did not see Nagraj. She then started roaming here and there in the jungle and while searching climbed the branches of the trees to look out for him. At that time Nagraj appeared before her in visible form and manifested as Satyeshwar. At that time she started swinging on the branches of the trees with joy. This is the reason for females to play swing on that day. The objective for playing swing on that day is, -'As the swing goes up so should the brother should progress towards the summit and as the swing goes down all the problems and sorrows in his life should go down'. Any sister who thinks and acts with this faith then her brother's spiritual benefit is 5% and worldly benefit 30%.
Prayer to be done on the day of Nag Panchmi : On the day of Nagpanchmi the outcry of the sister who prays with intense yearning for the progress of her brother reaches the feet of the God. Hence for establishment of the Divine Kingdom every sadhika on that day should pray that every youth should get wisdom, strength and capability. On Nagpanchmi maximum chanting should be done to acquire peace. One should stay calm and try to overcome one's personality defects.
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Image Source: Sanatan Sanstha
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